Crap, another lost cycle last cycle. I think I'll just focus on getting back to some benchmark loads with the 3x3 protocol, like 135 OP, 225 BP, 275 Squat, 315 Deadlift, and then see what happens after that. I also have to decide if I'm really up for a daily bike ride in the morning plus daily push-pull lifting in the afternoon or if it's best to go back to the EOD routine of alternating between doing all my main lifts one day, and doing aerobic the other, usually in the afternoon for both. I think the ED protocol for both lifting and aerobic is probably best for fitness, but the EOD protocol keeps things fresher mentally, and it's always worked for me in the past. The main goal is simply to get in better overall shape and lose some weight, and try not to get too caught up in lifting progress as a goal in and of itself. But it's hard. Once I start getting back into it, I invariably start looking forward to greater loads and progress. Hard to stay within the lifting moment and just lift. ---------------Week 1: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.10.08 AM 1 mi bike commute. Noon 8.4 mi bike ride--Office to home via NPB no.9. I took a slightly shorter ascent to the bridge. Beautiful fall day. First day of Cycle VI. I knew if I didn't get in a ride there would be little hope of establishing a riding routine before winter sets in. Monday, 17.10.09 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push--Priming SQ: 3 x 3 @ empty bar TKOP (Tall Kneeling Overhead Press): 3 x 5 @ empty bar BP: 3 x 5 @ empty bar Tuesday, 17.10.10 Wednesday, 17.10.11 Morning & Afternoon Riding: Commute 2 mi Late Afternoon Lifting: Push--Priming SQ: 3 x 3 @ 95 lbs TKOP: 3 x 5 @ 95 lbs BP: 3 x 5 @ 95 lbs Thursday, 17.10.12 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull--Priming DL: 3 x 3 @ 185 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs PD: 3 x 3 @ 150 lbs Everything felt pretty easy. After this week of priming, I should be ready to start building up to 90% resistance next week, then begin microloading once the easy progress stalls. Hopefully I can get up to a 3RM 275-pound Squat, or approximately a 300-pound 1RM Squat, by the end of the cycle. After that, who knows? Keep going, or stand pat? We'll see. Definitely feels good to be lifting again though, and that's all that really matters at this point. Back on the chain gang. One thing's for sure: I've become pretty good at getting back into shape, but pretty bad at staying in shape for more than a year or even six months at a time. Gotta fix that. I will, however, give myself credit for staying largely injury-free these last several years, now that I've adjusted to the fact that I'm middle-aged and somewhat brittle. Friday, 17.10.13 Had time to lift at the end of the day, but didn't. How does that happen? Saturday, 17.10.14 ---------------Week 2: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.10.15 Some riding with the kids. Monday, 17.10.16 Morning & Afternoon Riding: Commute, 2 mi Mid morning Riding: Errands, 8 mi Late Afternoon Lifting: Push--Priming SQ: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs TKOP: 3 x 3 @ 95 lbs BP: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs First day I finally rode and lifted on the same day. Felt pretty good. The earlier riding didn't seem to interfere with the later lifting much at all, but I'm still just priming. We'll see, but seems pretty doable to do a daily split like that. Experimenting with that could be the goal of this cycle, in addition to simply getting the loads back up. Tuesday, 17.10.17 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull--Priming DL: 3 x 3 @ 225 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs PD: 3 x 3 @ 150 lbs Still proceeding cautiously, but so far, so good . . . Wednesday, 17.10.18 Thursday, 17.10.19 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push--Priming SQ: 3 x 3 @ 185 lbs TKOP: 3 x 3 @ 95 lbs BP: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs Next time I'll try 225 lbs for the Squat 3RM (250 lbs 1RM) and if that feels right, re-institute the Iron Ratio for the other lifts using the Squat to calculate the base unit. Then begin progressive overloading, probably in 5-10 increments at first, for the squat, then microloading when resistance starts to build up. Friday, 17.10.20 Saturday, 17.10.21 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull--Priming DL: 3 x 3 @ 225 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs OK, last day of priming. I punched in 250 1RM for the Squat in my Excel sheet in order to derive the loads for the other lifts, following the Iron Ratio. Here's what I got for the 1RM and 3RMs: SQ: 250/225 OP: 125/113 BP: 188/169 DL: 288/259 Rw: 156/141 PD: 209/188 Everything looks pretty doable. Then it's just a question of what rate to use for the microloading. I'll probably start with adding a pound on the 1RM Squat for each Push/Pull split until it feels too easy, but maybe I'll just stick with that, even if it feels like the rate of increase could be greater. In my present mood, I'm all for lifting feeling easy, as my motivation isn't very strong. Now I really gotta get serious about sled work at the end of each lifting session. ---------------Week 3: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.10.22 Monday, 17.10.23 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 251 lbs SQ: 2/2/3 @ 225 lbs TKOP: 3 x 3 @ 105 lbs BP: 3 x 3 @ 155 lbs I decided to give myself one more split to get up to full reps or load. Today's 3RM loads should've been 226, 113, and 170 for the Squat, OP, and BP, respectively. Everything felt solid and the extra resistance now that I'm done priming felt good. I started using my squat belt for the first time since June. Next split I really have to incorporate some sled work. Tuesday, 17.10.24 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 289 lbs DL: 3 x 3 @ 260 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 141 lbs PD: 3 x 3 @ 150 lbs OK, up to full resistance for the Deadlift and Row. Even began microloading the Row. I was too lazy to add plates to the loading pipe of my pulldown cable though. I'm thinking of ordering a weight stack. I think I could frame it with 4x4s and make it work. My kids like to play with the pulldown cable, so it would be easier for them to adjust the weight this way too. And it might encourage my wife to try lifting. Presently, I have to unscrew the cap of the weight pipe and then add or take off plates. And then the load swings a bit while I'm doing my pulldowns. There's a site called Atlantis Fitness that seems to have decent selectorized weight stack systems: http://www.exercise-equipment-parts.com/castwestsy.html Wednesday, 17.10.25 Thursday, 17.10.26 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 251 lbs SQ: 1 @ 225 lbs Just wasn't feeling it. I knew I was in trouble when my last warmup set at 185 felt heavy. I could've forced the workout, but it's still too early in the getting-back-into-shape phase. In another week or two I might've gone for it, But I only started doing decent resistance last week and it felt like I might risk injury by pushing it. So I retreated to live to fight another day. ------- I went ahead and ordered a 250-pound weight stack from Atlantis Fitness. I'm just not getting into the weight plates on a swinging pipe approach. Plus it's very hard for my wife and kids to take plates on or off the pipe/pin, and it's even a big enough bother for me to make micro loading too much of a hassle on pulldowns. Plus-plus the cable feels like it's too close to my face on Squats and too close to my head on Bench Presses. I figure I can mount the guide posts into 4x4s but I won't have to modify too much more to make what I already have work. Will definitely post pics when I get it up and running. The weight stack plates will be in 10-pound increments, so, since I do pulldowns last on my Pull day, it might be fun to do drop sets for a good burn. I could do something similar on my Push day with dips and reps or something. So this will hopefully be my last big upgrade. If only my garage ceiling were higher, I could probably eventually have found a power rack with a weight stack used on craigslist, and have forgone the Flintstone modifications. Oh well, I think it's going to work well once it's finished. I'm already really enjoying having a proper squat rack. Friday, 17.10.27 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 251 lbs SQ: 2 x 3 @ 225 lbs TKOP: 2 x 3 @ 115 lbs BP: 2 x 3 @ 170 lbs On one of my Squat warmup sets I noticed the plates on the right side were a bit off balance. Then on my second workset, I felt a little imbalance again and looked over to the right side. The plates were fine but that got my form off a little bit. And my right knee felt just a little sore afterwards so I shut it down. I got in two good worksets finally, so that was enough for the day. I felt confident I'd get in three full sets next time at the proper microload. So just about there. I brought the presses up to full Iron Ratio loads and they felt fine, but since this was the first time at proper load, and since I had only done two worksets of squats, I decided to keep these at two worksets too, both as a precaution for my right knee on the Tall Kneeling Overhead Press and for symmetry's sake. Saturday, 17.10.28 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 289 lbs DL: 3 x 3 @ 261 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 141 lbs I didn't do the pulldowns, thinking about the weight stack that's on its way. ---------------Week 4: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.10.29 Riding: AM Commute, 1 mi. 32 F/ 24F windchill. My toes were definitely getting a little cold by the time I arrived at my office. Early Afternoon, 8.6 mi bike ride--Office to home via NPB no.9. I put on my Sockwas for the first time of the fall-winter season. The cooler air felt bracing and good. Monday, 17.10.30 Early evening Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 255 lbs SQ: 3/1/3 @ 230 lbs Just had 10 minutes before dinner, so I had the opportunity to apply my minimalist principle and just get the Squats in. I raised the load five pounds because I had been stalling at 225 for a week making sure I was really ready for heavier loads after priming for a few weeks. 230 felt fine, very solid. But I was hungry so I only did two sets. Actually, on the second set, I figured the loads are getting heavy enough that I should raise up the safety bar to proper squat height, but I wasn't sure what that was. I'd only had the safety bars set for bench height since I got the new/used squat rack in the summer, and the bench safety bar height is several inches lower than the squat safety bar height. So as I descended on the first rep of the second set, I looked over and saw that the height that I had guessed at was just about right, so I deloaded onto the safety bars to see what it felt like, in case I need to bail for real at some point. Good to practice. But then I didn't feel like trying to raise the barbell off the safety bars again after deloading and losing all my bracing, so I got out and up, unloaded the bar, and put it back up on the j-hooks for a full set, but I was getting hungry, so I let the second full set be my last. Next time I'm warming up with an empty bar, I'll try to remember to experiment a bit more with squat safety bar height. Anyway, Squats are starting to come along, I may have to increase the rate of increase in a bit. It will be interesting to see how fast I can get back to where I was late June, now that the priming is done, the joints feel solid, and I'm starting to load decent resistance. I would think I could get there by the end of the year, but probably earlier. Just have to see how it goes. I definitely like it when the workouts feel easy, so no real rush. The main thing is to make sure everything is easy enough to be able to motivate consistently. Consistency and frequency are key, the progress will follow fairly effortlessly, I know now, after getting into and out of shape several times, if I simply lift on a frequent and consistent basis. To that end I was pleased I was able to invoke my minimalist principle today and get in my squats with the little time I had. In the past I would've told myself there's no point in lifting if I can't get in a full workout, but I think if I can consistently get in my squats and deadlifts, I should be able to maintain a good rate of progress even if I miss a day or two a week on the other lifts. The order I do the lifts is the same order of priority I give them: Squat > OP > BP; DL > Rw > PD. So if I have 10-15 minutes I just do the first lift of a split. If I have 15-20 minutes, then I do the first two lifts. If I have 20-25 minutes or more, then I do all three lifts. Of course, as the loads increase, the time I need to get through all the sets will increase, but I think even if I start squatting over 300, or deadlifting over 350 lbs, 40-45 minutes for all three lifts should be enough. So no real need to mess with programming. I still like the Push/Pull split and I like the 3x3 protocol. Call it the "3x3x3x2" program: 3 lifts (lower, middle, and upper body) for 3 sets of 3 reps on a 2-day, push-pull split. Three reps per set is so easy mentally. I think if I start to feel some overtraining-type soreness in my shoulders or knees, instead of increasing reps, I may simply program in some easy or light days, but still with three reps in three sets. So the only experiment this cycle will be trying to work in the cardio and conditioning. Tuesday, 17.10.31 Hmnn, looks like if I add five pounds to the Squat 1RM by next week and then add two pounds per split iteration instead of one pound per split after that, I'll get back to the loads I was doing at the end of June by the end of Cycle VII, or the end of this year. OK, I think I'll try that. Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 293 lbs DL: 3 x 3 @ 265 lbs Just enough pre-trick-or-treat time for Deadlifts. Wednesday, 17.11.01 Thursday, 17.11.02 Friday, 17.11.03 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 251 lbs SQ: 1/2 @ 232 lbs The packages for my weight stack arrived, but not for the guide posts or selector shaft. Each plate was individually wrapped, so I got caught up in unwrapping all 25 of them in between sets and then didn't have time to finish my workout before picking up the kids. Still, 232 felt very doable despite feeling a bit off for the day. Saturday, 17.11.04 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 251 lbs SQ: 2 x 3 @ 232 lbs TKOP: 2 x 3 @ 116 lbs Not sure why I didn't do the Bench Press. Squat and Tall Kneeling Overhead Press felt solid, although my right patella felt a little sore on both lifts. Microloading has begun in earnest. Now I'll keep adding two pounds to the Squat 1RM until it starts to feel too hard. Amazing how good it felt to lift. Didn't have enough time to remove the casters from my sled and put the plastic slides back on. Must get on that next week. I'm giving up on the caster idea. The resistance isn't really enough unless I go uphill on my short driveway, and it's hard to steer. The plan now is to push and pull the sled on the street in front of my house. I'll first push the sled up the driveway to the street, and then do loaded carries as I carry the 45-pound plates from the garage gym up to load the sled. I'll mainly be in front of my yard and the two neighbors' yards on the other side of the street. Both sets of neighbors are pretty easy-going and one guy makes a fair amount of noise with a table saw and other power tools from time to time, so hopefully no-one will complain. It will almost always be at the end of the afternoon when there's a lot of coming and going so I don't think I'll be ruining the peace and solitude of anyone on the block. I still have four weeks left in the cycle to implement my halfhearted program of lite aerobic work in the morning, either walking or cycling, and then three lifts in the afternoon with some HIIT sled work afterwards. That would hit all three energy systems--the aerobic system, the anaerobic or phosphagen system, and glycolysis. I've also thought of walking the one mile to and from work but running up the hills along the way. That would be easy on the knees and yet get in a little running movement from time to time, and would break up the tedium of cycling every morning. If I can get it up and running in full, this program would incorporate Abide/Dan John's recommended loaded carries, Abide's former sled work, his three-lifts per workout protocol, and his mix of cycling and foot-based locomotion. Guide posts and selector shaft arrived in the afternoon, but it was much too late to begin the weight stack project. Played with kids in the yard and driveway instead. ---------------Week 5: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.11.05 Whole day spent shopping. Yikes. Knees held up well to all the slow shuffling. When we got home it was already dinner time and I was too hungry to motivate for deadlifts. I was hoping to get the weight stack project finished this weekend. Oh well. Monday, 17.11.06 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 306 lbs DL: 3/3/2 @ 275 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 145 lbs I was too lazy to bother with the fractional plates. Second rep of third set of Deadlifts I felt a little niggle, so I shut it down. But the load felt pretty easy overall. Tuesday, 17.11.07 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 261 lbs SQ: 3 x 3 @ 235 lbs Didn't work out before picking up the kids, so had to get in a quick session before dinner. Should've done the presses too. Oh well. 235 for the Squat felt pretty solid. It was supposed to be 234, but I didn't have patience for the fractional plates. But I'll start to take the microloading more seriously soon, as soon as I feel like I've reached the end of the easily recoverable strength. Seems like there could be another 10-20 pounds in there. I might try 240 next time. Wednesday, 17.11.08 Thursday, 17.11.09 Friday, 17.11.10 Saturday, 17.11.11 ---------------Week 6: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.11.12 Monday, 17.11.13 Tuesday, 17.11.14 Riding: AM Commute, 4.72 mi. I took the long way to my office, riding from my neighborhood through the adjoining State Fairgrounds, onto the UofM bus route, then off it for the last half mile. I've been planning on doing this for several weeks, but finally motivated. Took about 30 minutes, so that's a nice aerobic session to start the day. Finally finished installing a weight stack on my squat rack. It turned out to be harder that I thought it would be, mostly because I drilled the bolt holes with zero tolerances, so it was a bitch to bolt the three 4x4 pieces together at the base. I used a drill press for precision, but the holes' alignment was still off enough to cause problems. If I did carpentry more often, I would've remembered to make the holes a little wider. Anyway, the stack works great, as well as I could've expected. The guide posts are nice and level. I used cedar 4x4s instead of pine and the thing is super solid. I need to order a new cable length though, as the one I was using is too long now. Then last night with the kids admiring my work by playing with the cable pulldown, I figured out a way to install a low pulley attachment. So I'll put off posting pics until I do that. Shouldn't take long, just one more trip to the hardware store and a little cutting and drilling. So the long upgrade is just about complete. Hopefully I'll motivate for some lifting and sled work later today. In the early AM, my little bike ride is already making me drowsy. ------ Riding: PM Commute, 1 mi. Wednesday, 17.11.15 Riding: AM Commute, 4.4 mi., 44F/36F WC, home-fairgrounds-UofM bus route-office. Took about 24 minutes, so it's already getting easier. ------ Riding: PM Commute, 1 mi. Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, SQ: 3 @ 225 lbs TKOP: 3 x 3 @ 95 lbs BP: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs It had been 10-11 days since I last did the presses, and my shoulders had a few cobwebs in them, so I just primed. Squat felt easy at 225 but I decided to be cautious there as well, to see how the knees interact with squats and cycling on the same day. Thursday, 17.11.16 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, DL: 3 x 3 @ 225 lbs Rw: 8-10 @ empty bar It had been a while since I did my Pull workout, so I just primed the Deadlift. My stomach was a little goofy after eating overripe broccolli for lunch anyway. I did some empty bar rows real quick too, before picking up the kids. My cable is too long for the new weight stack setup, so I ordered new ones from Yukon Fitness. They make custom cables at a reasonable price. I ordered a second one so that I can do low pulley rows as well. Friday, 17.11.17 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, SQ: 3 @ 235 lbs My stomach once again felt a little goofy after eating some old salad for lunch. The first workset felt pretty easy nonetheless. Then my left knee felt just the slightest niggle, and that, together with my queasiness, was enough to convince me to postpone the rest of the workout until the following day, possibly with a slightly heavier squat load. The never ending battle between a desire for progress and a desire for easiness. Saturday, 17.11.18 Worked on making a portable base for low-pulley rows, once again using cedar 4x4s. ---------------Week 7: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.11.19 Finished the low-pulley row base, then decided to watch my recording of the Vikings-Rams game instead of doing a workout. Lame. Monday, 17.11.20 Riding: AM Commute, got a flat rear tire after a half-mile or so, walked the bike back home and drove to my office. Man, I haven't gotten a flat in years. I wonder what caused it? Tuesday, 17.11.21 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 272 lbs SQ: 2 x 3 @ 245 lbs TKOP: 3 @ 115/125 lbs Finally got back to it. 245 felt solid but I only did two sets just in case. This felt like a good base weight from which to begin microloading. I was definitely a little light-headed after each set. I worked up to 125 on the Overhead Press, and that also felt like a good base load. So I think I'm all set. I was worried that my inconsistently these last few weeks would set me back, but I'm still OK and progressing. It would be nice to get my Squat 1RM over 300 pounds before the year's out. Wednesday, 17.11.22 Mid Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 306 lbs DL: 2 x 3 @ 275 lbs Thursday, 17.11.23 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 278 lbs SQ: 2 x 3 @ 250 lbs TKOP: 2 x 3 @ 125 lbs Friday, 17.11.24 Saturday, 17.11.25 Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 316 lbs DL: 3 x 2 @ 285 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 155 lbs 285 pounds on the Deadlift felt fine, but I kept it to two reps just in case the ligaments, tendons, and stabilizer muscles needed a little extra time to catch up to the new/old loads. Still waiting for Yukon Fitness to manufacture my cables for me. ---------------Week 8: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday, 17.11.26 Monday, 17.11.27 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 280 lbs SQ: 2 x 3 @ 252 lbs TKOP: 3 x 2 @ 125 lbs Squat felt good, then I was interrupted before I could do my third set. After an hour I returned to finish the workout, but the Tall Kneeling Overhead Press felt heavy after cooling down for an hour. So I just did three sets of two reps. Enough to maintain at least, I think. My chart called for 126 pounds, so I'm not too far off, should be easy next time. Gotta start working in the Bench Press though, the Iron Ratio-dictated load is getting up there. Before too long I won't be able to count on it being easily recoverable. Tuesday, 17.11.28 Early Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 322 lbs DL: 3 x 2 @ 290 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 160 lbs Starting to become challenging, but still very doable. I think I'll finish this week microloading two pounds per split on the Squat, then maybe slow down to one pound per split in Cycle VII, just to make sure I don't hurt myself. It's always a trick finding the balance between wanting workouts to be relatively easy and therefore easy to motivate for, and satisfying a sense of progress. Wednesday, 17.11.29 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 281 lbs SQ: 3/3/2 @ 253 lbs TKOP: 3 x 3 @ 126 lbs BP: 3 x 3 @ 135 And so the microloading begins in earnest. The effort level felt just right, the extra pound unnoticeable. And I finally worked the Bench Press back in. I'll go up in 5-10 increments until I get to the load dictated by the Iron Ratio, which is 190 pounds currently. Finished reorganizing my garage gym space, getting rid of clutter and storing away all the 1" standard plates. I just have my basic set of Olympic grip plates now: Eight 45-pound plates Two 25-pound plates Four 10-pound plates Four 5-pound plates Two 2.5-pound plates Two 1-pound plates Two 0.75-pound plates Two 0.50-pound plates Two 0.25-pound plates My Squat rack with added weight stack, my bar, and a bench. I'm still keeping my curl bar around in case I want to do pullovers. I also still have my landmine attached to my dumbbell rack, and a dip attachment. At some point I would like to work occasional assistance Dips and Pullovers into my Push workout, and Landmine Twists, Dumbbell Rows, and possibly lite Power Cleans into my Pull workout. Thursday, 17.11.30 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 323 lbs DL: 3 x 3 @ 291 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 158 lbs Friday, 17.12.01 Late Afternoon Lifting: Push, Squat 1RM = 282 lbs SQ: 2 x 3 @ 254 lbs Got interrupted. Will try to finish the presses with the last Pull workout of this cycle tomorrow. Still, two worksets of squats should be enough to keep the ball rolling. Saturday, 17.12.02 Late Afternoon Lifting: Pull, Deadlift 1RM = 324 lbs DL: 3 x 3 @ 292 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 159 lbs BP: 3 @ 135/145/155/165/165/165 Enjoying the slower rate of load increase now, settling into the heaviness of the Deadlift, feeling confident I won't break my back or something. I had a little extra time so I decided to work on getting my Bench Press back up, since I had skipped it yet another time on yesterday's Push workout. I went up in ten-pound increments then stopped at 165, even though it felt like I could've kept going. I think I'll do 175 next time, then 185, and if everything feels solid, start doing my projected 3RM of 193 by the end of next week. ------- Anyway, that's a wrap for Cycle VI. I didn't get as much done as I would've liked, but at least I got in six consecutive workouts in Week Eight. I'm within one or two month's striking distance from my old PRs now, so a little patience and consistency should see me there by mid-winter sometime.